• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:24am

Thailand's Yingluck calls for snap elections, but protesters vow 'judgment day'

The move fails to appease defiant protesters, who call for the prime minister to step down

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 11:57am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 9:06am

Desperate to defuse Thailand's deepening political crisis, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she was dissolving the lower house of parliament and called for early elections. But the moves did nothing to stem a growing tide of more than 150,000 protesters vowing to overthrow her.

Analysts said the steps came too late and were unlikely to satisfy opponents who want to rid Thailand of her powerful family's influence. The protesters are pushing for a non-elected "people's council" to replace her democratically elected government.

After listening to opinions, I [will] request a decree to dissolve parliament

Thailand has been plagued by major bouts of upheaval since Yingluck's brother Thaksin was toppled in a 2006 army coup that laid bare a deeper conflict between the elite and the educated middle-class and Thaksin's power base in the countryside, which benefited from populist policies designed to win over the rural poor.

An attempt by Yingluck's party last month to pass a bill through parliament that would have granted amnesty to Thaksin and others triggered the latest round of unrest.

"After listening to opinions from all sides, I have decided to request a royal decree to dissolve parliament," said Yingluck, her voice shaking as she spoke in a nationally televised address yesterday that broke into regular programming. "There will be new elections according to the democratic system."

Yingluck's ruling party won the last vote two years ago in a landslide and is likely to come out victorious in any new ballot.

Watch: Watch: Thai PM calls elections as 140,000 join protest

Government spokesman Teerat Ratanasevi said the cabinet had proposed a new vote be held on February 2. The date must be approved by the Election Commission and electoral officials will meet with the government in the next few days to discuss it, said Jinthong Intarasri, a spokeswoman for the commission.

Yingluck said she would remain in a caretaker capacity until such time as a new premier is named.

As Yingluck spoke, long columns of marching protesters paralysed traffic on major Bangkok boulevards, filling four-lane roads as they converged from nine locations on Yingluck's office at Government House.

In Hong Kong about 30 Thais staged a protest at the Thai consulate-general in Admiralty calling for Yingluck to "return power to its people". Their petition was received by Consul Khanthong Nuanual.

In Bangkok, protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban had yet to announce his reaction to Yingluck's moves. He has repeatedly said, however, that calling fresh elections and even Yingluck's resignation would not be enough to end the conflict.

Protesters agreed. "We will keep on protesting because we want her family to leave this country," said Boonlue Mansiri, one of tens of thousands who joined a 20-kilometre march to Yingluck's office.

Suthep's supporters yesterday appeared to abandon the two places they had occupied for more than a week - the Finance Ministry and part of a vast government complex.

The country's political standoff deepened on Sunday after the main opposition party resigned from the legislature en masse to join the anti-government demonstrations. The Democrats held 153 of the 500 seats in the legislative body, according to the latest figures on their website.

The minority Democrats - who are closely allied with the protesters - have not won an election since 1992, and some of their leaders appear to have given up on electoral politics as a result.

At least five people have been killed and 289 injured in the latest unrest. Violence ended suddenly last week as both sides celebrated the birthday of the king, who turned 86 on Thursday.

Additional reporting by Tanna Chong


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

Yes, that is how they define and live democracy. A "legally" elected government is blackmailed, pushed to call for re-elections but this is still not enough for their politcal opponents. As they knew they stand no change in the elections, again they are calling for a coup-d'etat. Yes, that's "democracy" in its best form. As you never will satisfy all the people (here in Thailand), they never will accept either of the parties, and as obviously all the people do not stick to the rule of a democratic system, why having elections at all?
When it comes to hard facts, international media, appear outrageously lacking. The statement - "The Democrats have not won an election in more than two decades." has apparently been quoted but wrongly for some time. To set the facts straight, Thaksin won the first general election in 2001 and it was not actually a landslide as he bought other medium- and smaller-sized parties to form his government. Therefore, he subsequently defeated the Democrat Party with an absolute majority because of the previous consolidations with other smaller parties(where they also had their loyal electorate). The Democrat Party won the election and formed their governments in 1992-1995 and also during 1997-2001 before Thaksin took over. The only truth about the Democrat Party is they never gain a chance to achieve an absolute majority in the parliament and always had to form a coalition which rendered them hard to implement policies without consent of other partners.
Moreover, there are several sympathizers of the Thaksin's regime disguised in the name of scholars and Pavin is well known to be one of them. Next time when you want to hear a more objective view of the political situation in Thailand, try to choose someone else!
what's the difference
Thaksin' Buy-A-Vote' ' Buy a Red -Shirt' or the DAB bussing in retirees from Shenzhen to vote, dinner & free bag of rice then driven back over the border ?
It shows HKG Govt has as much control of a supposed first world voting system as the one in Thailand
Elsewhere in the civilised world political parties have to reveal their party donations - but not here- so we do not see the puppet masters driving local party policies
For all we know North Korea could be funding a political Party here + the Party is not legally obliged to reveal it.
Utter Shambles.
To Camel,
We're not talking about my or anyone's 'opinion' as you said, it is obvious that Thaksin and his cronies were caught and decided by open courts that they were corrupt. We're talking about how to impeach them. Your understanding of democracy seems to focus only on casting ballots, not how they're using their power while in tenure. Whether our country is suitable for full democracy is a different issue altogether, what we're trying to deal with here is how to ensure there's no power abuse. I'm sure Thailand is not having this problem alone, it just happens that we do not have yet enough good politicians. If you have a government that has absolute control in the parliament and does whatever they like, it's call a tyranny by majority!
What at issue in Thailand now is how to draft a reform plan that would minimize the problems we're having. Unfortunately, Yingluk's government refuses to participate, adamantly demanding only a new election which almost all sectors do not believe it would be a solution. Therefore, our problems run deeper than the issue of whether we admit majoritism, but we need to stop those in power now before our country is completely ruined. It's not true that if we seek to resolve our problems by even adopting an unelected interim government for a brief period before we all reach the consensus on reform, we could become anarchical or communist as you say! Problems in this world are much more complicated than that, which I trust you do comprehend.
of course the world is much more complicated but if you play your game in a group you stick to the base playing rules. What I am saying is that democracy only works in this way - with rules. If you don't stick to the rules that an government is elected by the majority, than you do not accept democracy at all. If you have deeper running problems, then don't have democracy in your country as you can not pretend to have democracy but not accepting the rules. When George W. Bush was elected as president in the USA, Al Gore did challenge the voting result in Florida. The judge dismissed all challenges and he accepted the defeat. The consequences was 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq. War against terrorism. All this could have been prevented if Gore would have stayed firm and challenged the whole voting system but he didn't for the sake of their existing democratic system.
So, if re-election is not helping in Thailand what then? Adopting an unelected interim government for how long? How long will those reforms will take? How long it will take for the opposition to "re-brainwash" the people to vote for them? What gives you the guarantee that all elections afterward outcome will be according to your expectation? And if not, you want to overthrow once more an elected government? One person one vote. That is how the election works and that is the rule of democracy. If you don't accept this, than don't vote at all.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not defending Thaksin or his sister's party what so ever. Thailand is a democratic country with an elected government. The government was elected to rule this country and to decide what to do and what not do to on behalf of the "majority". That is the concept of democracy. So if the majority of the country voted for this government, they support this governments action. The opposition has the right to disagree with the policy of the government, to protest but not overthrow an elected government as this would be an action against the majority of the country and a violation against the democratic system. It is anarchy. You think that the Thaksin regime is destroying the country, so you "as the opposition" need to do your utmost to educate, teach and inform the people about it. To make them understand that with their vote for the Thaksin Regime, they will only harm and destroy the country. If you think that the majority of the people are selfish because they are poor, foolish because they lack of education, then Thailand is not ready and qualified for democracy, a voting system with one person one vote, as the people will elect always the "wrong leaders". And THAT is your opinion. The wrong leaders are in power and will harm the country. You again (as the voting minority) want to overthrow them "illegally". That is not democracy and Thailand may not be suitable for it. Then you should introduce a dictatorship like China.
Let the people decide. Free and fair elections (never independently disputed) will decide the matter to approval of the international community.
Unfortunately democracy has swung power from the Bangkojk feudal elite. Time to realise their abject right to power has disappeared and violent politics shouldn't work.
Convince the majority or give up imposing policy upon the masses by violent force.
Camel, I need to give you some clarification. Firstly, we never disagree with the election victory of Thaksin-led party but we have grave concern over their abuses of power, which even two more years under their tenure would be too deadly long for the country to bear. Secondly, you may not know that they have squandered over US$ 14.5 billion on rice scheme with lots of grafts; planned to spend $ 64.5 billion on infrastructure projects with limited project details and with no budgetary control, and which would render the country indebted for the next 50 years; planned to expend $ 11.3 billion on flood control project again without any clear plans and design; apart from having amended the constitution to achieve absolute control over the parliament, with no healthy checks and balances by independent agencies; etc. Would you tolerate this if it happened to your country? Thirdly, there are people who believe more in the democratic form rather than content, without realizing that certain political culture needs to be in place to distinguish between good or bad politics where no governing laws exist. This is where Thaksin tries to exploit the poor and fool them that by holding the power to elect his party they would enjoy receiving benefits from him forever. The poor wouldn't know that within the next 5-10 years Thailand would fall into another Greece and they would certainly be the ones who suffer most! If the present constitution fails to check the above, would you otherwise?


SCMP.com Account